Ravenscraig Sports Centre
17th of October 2012
Henson Projects Scottish Cup Semi-Finals
My initial plan for the evening was to focus on the Hamilton Accies v Forfar Farmington match, which was played outdoors adjacent to the indoor arena at Ravenscraig. However due to torrential rain, ridiculously poor lighting on the night and a strong breeze, making photography almost impossible without putting equipment at risk – I took the easy option of heading to the indoor arena for the City v Hibs offering.
Apparently I missed a cracker of a match as Forfar beat Hamilton 2 – 1 after extra time.
However, I did witness some excellent football inside which resulted in Hibs suffering their third semi-final in the space of a week as their Under 15s and 17s lost to Celtic and Glasgow Girls respectively in the same competition and venue.
Hibernian were always going to be faced with an onerous task against a side that very rarely concedes a goal, never mind loses, although they have beaten City in this very competition two seasons hitherto.
Hibs’ keeper Shannon Lynn was put to the test early doors from a corner, which was swung in from the seated side of the ground. Danica Dalziel met it at the back post but couldn’t get direction on the ball. After a few frantic attempts at clearing the danger and some wild swings from City, the ball fell to Emma Mitchell at the edge of the box. She smashed it with some force, which had the keeper diving low to her left, producing a stunning save.
Hibs escaped again as Rachel Corsie and Dalziel set up Leanne Crichton, whose powerful drive, rattled the crossbar from some 25 yards or so.
Hibs struggled to maintain the ball in the first period as City pressed them high up the park, forcing early errors from the back or long balls into no man’s land. When they did find a route forward they looked dangerous however. Lizzie Arnot dispatch a lovely through pass for Susan Fairlie to latch on to but keeper Claire Johnstone matched the striker’s run to avert the danger.
City were causing trouble with swift one touch football using their pace to get behind the green and white back line. Eilish McSorley working in conjunction with Nicola Docherty to set up Jane Ross. Her 22 yard effort bounced off the keeper’s chest but she recovered to gather at the second attempt.
City made the breakthrough after 27 minutes as Mitchell headed home a cross, which came in from the right. Her close range header gave Lynn little chance of stopping it due to the closeness of those around her.
Being a goal down against Scotland’s best is always going to be an uphill struggle and even more so as the City players appear to have free roles, popping up on either wing or through the middle randomly, making them a nightmare to mark.
Jane Ross showed exemplary skill on the ball and dynamic pace as she broke down the left before squaring for Mitchell. Her shot from distance had Lynn scrambling across her line; relieved to see the ball passing narrowly beyond her post.
Hibs’ Arnot and Laura Kennedy combined in midfield to find Fairlie, who found herself under extreme pressure from the City defence. Losing the ball, she fought back to regain possession, skirted around her marker, shooting low but Johnstone was down quickly to her left to make a fine save.
Kennedy played a lovely cross from the right to the left of the box for Kirsty Smith, whose first touch let her down. As the ball breached her control, Johnstone came to gather at her feet but the number 11′s foot was left in hitting the keeper. Not deliberate but possibly avoidable and she received a yellow card from the match referee.
As the game sped towards half-time, Emma Mitchell doubled the Glasgow side’s lead with a left-footed drive from 22 yards. From my position I thought the ball had ventured to the wrong side of the upright but in fact in hit the post and travelled on into the net, with Lynn at full stretch, unable to reach it.
A good run down the left by Ruesha Littlejohn resulted in a squared ball for Mitchell. As she ran into the area, she was met by two defenders, one who clearly had her arms around her. Credit to Mitchell for remaining on her feet and refusing the opportunity to go to ground, which would have almost certainly resulted in a penalty kick being awarded. This despite Mitchell chasing a hat-trick gives a clear indication that the women’s game is played with integrity – had that been in the men’s game; well we all know what the outcome would have been.
Half-Time: City 2 Hibs 0
If Hibs were going to get back into this game Willie Kirk was going to have to get his team defending further up the park. Not an easy task to achieve against Eddie Wolecki Black’s girls. It was also essential that the Edinburgh side scored the next goal or it was curtains for them and the end of their hopes for a cup final place.
Hibernian came out and immediately began to apply pressure on the City defences. Fairlie had two shots at goal in quick succession, the latter from 20 yards only inches away.
However, they lost possession too easily in the City half of the field with a stray pass. The ball was dispatched to the left wing, where Mitchell lay in wait. A brisk run down the left, firing in a super shot, hit with real venom, forcing Lynn into another great save, palming the ball away but only as far as Ross. The keeper was up on her feet fast enough to put the striker off and her lob missed the target but only just!
City applied more pressure with chances falling to Crichton, Love and Ross but Hibs held on. What was clear however was the City side went in for every tackle, made each run or header as if their lives depended on it. At 2 – 0 up, they could comfortably eased of the gas and played “keep ball” amongst themselves but that is not the City way.
Hibs though were playing superior football compared to their first 45 minutes and were creating chances. Lynn’s long ball found Fairlie 30 yards out. Darting forward, ball at her feet and with an orange shirt breathing down her neck, her lob from 2o yards finished off target. We all know how good a player Fairlie is but even she had to take her opportunity earlier than she would have liked.
Fairlie turned creator next, winning the ball in midfield and sending it long and right to Arnot. Her shot from inside the box bringing out a good save from Johnstone but again possibly the striker being forced into taking the shot too early giving Johnstone the upper hand.
At the other end, Mitchell delivered a diagonal cross to Ross who headed down, watching agonisingly as it inched its way past the post.
McSorley then hit a long ball over the top for Mitchell, who smacked it at Lynn, forcing another classy save before Lisa Robertson cleared for a corner.
Lynn again produced an outstanding finger tip save from the foot of Mitchell, sending her 20 yard drive over the bar.
Ross set up Dalziel who struck the ball with force but once more Lynn was at hand to clutch the ball securely to her chest despite a slight deflection.
Hibs’ were dealt a cruel blow as Joelle Murray appeared to damage a muscle when delivering a corner. The player left the park with an ice pack strapped to her left leg.
City ensured they were heading to the final when Mitchell’s high cross was headed home by Jo Love to make it three goals without reply on the night.
There is no doubt City deserved their victory but one has to wonder who will beat them? The Glasgow club must be challenged if they are to be knocked off the top spot and from a City perspective, they have to face tougher opposition in the league, in order to compete at on European stage.
Let’s not kid ourselves, Hibs are an excellent side, capable of beating any other side in the country but yet are still a long way from winning against Glasgow City, who are a formidable opponent by Scottish standards. For me – clubs have to find a way to hold on to their best players, so that they can compete with them and challenge for trophies over the season. Glasgow City are the team to beat – who will do it? Can Forfar cause an upset in the final – be there and find out!
Player of the Match: So many to choose from. Was there a player in the City team who did not perform? No….. And Shannon Lynn was a stand out for the Edinburgh side. However – Emma Mitchell for me was Miss Entertainment, fast, skilful and with an eye for goal.
City: Johnstone, Corsie, Crichton, Dalziel, Docherty, L. Ross, Littlejohn, Love, McSorley, Mitchell, J. Ross Subs: Fernon, McDonald, Pagliarulo, Alexander, Murray
Hibs: Lynn, Brownlie, Brown, McLaughlin, Robertson, Smith, Arnot, Hunter, Murray, Kennedy, Fairlie Subs: Malcolm, Hare, Weir, Pia, Zolte